1. Assess the old tile.

The first question to ask is whether you should remove the old tile, says John Tudisco, vice president of sales at Fiorano Tile Showrooms in Elmont, Williston Park and Bellmore. "If the old tile is structurally sound, not cracked or loose, then you can tile right over it - and save yourself a whole lot of time and grief. While tiling on top of tile will make the floor higher, it's usually not a problem." He adds, "If you do have to rip up the tile, get out your hammer and chisel. Then, screw down half-inch-thick cement board to create a new floor layer or substrate." That will cost about $1 a square foot.


2. Remove the toilet.

"If you're going through the effort of retiling, the first step is to remove the commode," Tudisco says. "Tiling around a commode won't give you a good look." He advises checking with your plumber for proper removal and insertion instructions.


3. Prepare the wall.

The next step is to pull off base molding, Tudisco says.


4. Lay out a tile design.

"Many people like to have a dry run to figure out the best tile pattern on the floor," Tudisco says. "Full tiles belong along the wall unobstructed by a vanity or toilet for the best aesthetic. Cut tiles are best placed up against the vanity or toilet wall where it's not as noticeable."


5. Have a plan.

Where do you start tiling? Once you've figured out the pattern, it's time to start tiling. Tudisco warns: "Start working at the farthest point from the exit door, so you don't tile yourself in."


6. Mix the mortar.

"Use a five-gallon mixing bucket and fill it about a third of the way with mortar and enough water to create a consistency like sour cream," suggests D.J. Ciliotta, executive vice president of Old Country Ceramic Tile Inc., located in Westbury and Port Jefferson Station. "For beginners, I suggest tiling about 5 to 10 square feet at a time to get a feel for using the mortar and repositioning the tiles."


7. Work the mortar.

Use the flat edge of the trowel to work the mortar into the substrate, or existing floor. Flip the trowel over, using the notched side to ready the mortar for the tile, Ciliotta says.


8. Set the tile.

How do you get a good bond? "Put a little pressure on each tile and move it slightly back and forth," says Ciliotta. "Be sure to use vinyl spacers in-between the tiles to keep a uniform grout joint between the tiles." Let the mortar set for about 48 hours.


9. Time to grout.

Grouting is the colored mortar that goes in-between the tiles. Grout is applied with a rubber grout float and water. "Glide the grout float diagonally over the base of the tile with enough pressure to force the grout into the joints," or crevices, Ciliotta advises.


10. Clean it up.

When the grout dries to a haze (15 minutes to a half-hour), it's time to clean up. "Be sure to have a bucket of clear, cool water and two to three wet sponges to wash off the excess grout," Ciliotta says. "And, keep rinsing and wringing the sponges to ensure a proper cleanup."


11. Apply a sealer.

Buff dry with a soft cloth for a polished finish. Ciliotta advises waiting 12 hours before walking on the floor. Finally, apply a sealer to the grout line to further protect the surface.